Your Complete Guide to Festivals and Events in Asia in 2017
The Asian continent offers an eclectic mix of fascinating culture and ancient tradition that culminates, throughout the year and across the region, in colourful, roaring, passionate celebrations. Festivals and events offer a unique insight into a country’s history, communities and culture, and timing your trip to coincide with one is guaranteed to provide incredible memories.
To help you understand the where, when and how of festivals in Asia in 2017, and so you don’t miss out, we’ve created this handy calendar of events:
Festivals and Events in Asia in January
Lunar New Year, January 28th
Commonly referred to as Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is celebrated not only in China but all across Asia. Characterised by endless fireworks and dancing dragons, Lunar New Year is an electric time to travel in Asia. Read our pro tips for travelling during Chinese New Year and our recommendations for 5 places to celebrate.
Chinese New Year may be only one day but in China it is celebrated within the golden week holiday, which lasts until February 2nd.
Tet Celebrations in Vietnam, January 26th – February 1st
Tet is Vietnam’s multi-day celebration of the Lunar New Year and is a time for family reunions and long-held traditions. Lasting over a week, locals make the often long journey back to their hometowns and spend time preparing their homes and various labour-intensive delicacies for raucous New Year feasts. Most shops and restaurants will close during Tet, making Hanoi and Saigon especially quiet, but there will always be food to be found and the empty streets are wonderful for wandering aimlessly.
Festivals and Events in Asia in February
Thaipusam in Malaysia, February 9th
Thaipusam is the most important Hindu festival in Malaysia and celebrates the legends of Lord Shiva’s youngest son Murugan. What makes this festival so fascinating to witness is the devotees who pay penance through piercings their bodies with various needles and hooks, in respect of Murugan who was given a lance to defeat three demons.
Talk with one of our team today to learn how you can experience the festival with Buffalo Tours in Penang.
Hong Kong Lantern Festival, February 11th
Taking place not long after Lunar New Year and affectionately nicknamed Hong Kong’s Valentine’s Day, there is an air of romance at this beautiful festival of light that gives the city a whole new atmosphere of its own.
Festivals and Events in Asia in March
Hanami in Japan, dates vary
Cherry Blossom Season can be hard to pin down in Japan but travelling in March is usually your best bet. Hanami simply means ‘flower viewing’ and different cities celebrate in a variety of different ways, although a park picnic is a national tradition.
This is an incredibly busy time in Japan so talk with our experts now to see it for yourself this Spring.
Nyepi Day in Bali, March 28th
Nyepi day is unlike any New Year celebration you will have come across before as the Hindu community of Bali commemorates with a day of silence and inactivity. Nyepi is celebrated on the Lunar New Year of the Balinese calendar and the inactivity of New Years Day extends all the way to the International Airport which closes completely!
Festivals and Events in Asia in April
Songkran in Thailand, April 13th-14th
Thailand’s country-wide water fight has got to be one of the world’s most epic New Year Celebrations, not to mention unbelievably fun. Celebrated in this way as a cleansing for the coming year, Thailand is never more alive than this second week of April.
Don’t forget to check out our Tour Guide Tips for surviving Songkran before you travel!
Maha Thingyan is a similar festival celebrated in Myanmar.
Festivals and Events in Asia in May
Vesak Day, May 10th
Vesak Day is celebrated among Buddhist populations across Asia as the trifecta of Buddha’s birthday (May 3rd), his enlightenment and nirvana all rolled into one. Borobodur in Indonesia is an especially special place to witness the event.
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, May 28th- 30th
The Dragon Boat Festival is a thrilling event that takes over the waterways of Southern China and Hong Kong. Read more about how to experience the festival as the locals do here. Hint: it involves plenty of rice wine!
Festivals and Events in Asia in June
Ramadan for Islamic Nations, May 27th – June 25th
Islamic nations and communities across Asia will be taking part in Ramadan rather early this year, at the end of May, and Eid celebrations will take place around Asia on the 27th and 28th June. We have some tips on travelling to Malaysia during Ramadan and you can read about the exclusively Malaysian Hari Raya celebrations here.
Festivals and Events in Asia in July
Rainforest World Music Festival in Malaysian Borneo, July 14th-16th
Bringing together musicians from around the world into the wild rainforests of Borneo, Malaysia, this music festival is a gem on the Malaysian event calendar, and one of the most popular events in the country. The festival combines jamming sessions and mini concerts with workshops and ethno-musical lectures – with the main event being the evening performances on the main stage.
Gion Matsuri in Japan, July 17th
This festival is one of Japan’s biggest and has been celebrated for an incredible 1148 years! The festival is based in Kyoto and while the main even – a procession of magnificent floats – is held on July 17th, events are held throughout July in and around Yasaka Shrine and the Gion district.
Festivals and Events in Asia in August
Singapore Festival of Arts, August 11th – September 17th
What better place to experience a truly international smorgasbord of art than Singapore, Asia’s famously multi-cultural destination. For an entire month, Singapore sparkles to life with street performers, theatrical productions, dance shows and musical concerts with a special focus on hip and boundary-pushing art. Most events are free, so this is a great time to head to Singapore.
Festivals and Events in Asia in September
Ultra Music Festival, across Asia throughout the month
Ultra is an internationally renowned, internationally staged, festival started in Miami way back in 1997. In Asia you can attend multiple Ultra Music Festivals throughout September, including Singapore (10-11th), Bali (15th-16th), the Philippines (17th), Hong Kong (17th) and Japan (17th-19th). A multi-stop itinerary could make for one epic music trip!
Singapore Grand Prix, September 15th- 17th
One of the highlights of the year in Singapore, the Grand Pix here holds the only night race in Formula 1 and the only street race in Asia. Early bird tickets to this world-famous event are already available and will go fast!
Festivals and Events in Asia in October
Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, October 4th
Asian Mid-Autumn is a well-loved celebration across the region and preperations can last all month. In fact China celebrates Mid-Autumn in their second national golden week holiday from October 2nd – 8th. Read up on the festivities in Vietnam here.
Diwali, October 19th
Diwali is the Hindu New Year and celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, and good over evil with impressive light shows throughout Singapore, Malaysia and also Bali.
The Vegetarian Festival in Phuket, dates TBC
A purification festival celebrated by Phuket’s Chinese community this is a truly unique festival on one of Thailand’s most popular islands.
Festivals and Events in Asia in November
Yi Peng and Loy Krathong in Thailand, November 4th (TBC)
Loy Krathong and Yi Peng are second only to Songkran when it comes to epic Thai festivals. You’ve no doubt seen countless stunning pictures from both of these festivals but do you really know what sets them apart? Educate yourself with these 5 differences between the two festivals.
Festivals and Events in Asia in December
Christmas Day, December 25th
Intrigued to know if Christmas spirit can be found in Asia, read on to find out!
Do you know any other Festivals and Events in Asia in 2017 that we have missed?
If you’re inspired by any events on this list, get in touch with our expert team to customise a journey around one of these exciting festivals!